Madame Chairperson and to everyone present in today’s hearing, good afternoon. First of all, I would like to thank the Chairperson of the Committee on Public Services, our esteemed colleague, Senator Grace Poe, for conducting this investigation on the proliferation of text scams and the reported use of SIM cards in illegal POGO operations.
Madame Chair, we have been very vocal about our stand on POGOs – we do not need them. The social costs of POGO operations far outweigh the minimal impact it has on our economy.
The POGO sector accounts for only 0.03% of our Gross Domestic Product from 2021 until August 2022, equivalent to Php4.20 billion. This number is further diminished in view of the significant social costs and reputational risk brought about by the increase in POGO-related criminal activities.
Furthermore, the POGO sector did not contribute to the creation of local jobs for Filipinos. In the 2022 report from DOLE, it was revealed that out of the 34,245 persons employed in the industry, 17,509 (51.13%) are foreign workers (51.13%), while 16,736 are Filipino workers (48.87%).
Earlier this year, during a hearing conducted by the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs last January 31, 2023, it was revealed that there have been at least 316 victims of various nationalities in 102 POGO-related crimes, including kidnapping for ransom.
Recently, more than 100,000 unregistered SIM cards allegedly used were seized by authorities following the raid conducted at Xinchuang Network Technology, Inc., a registered POGO hub in Las Piñas City. Similarly, 28,000 SIM cards allegedly used for cyberscams were also found following the raid on the POGO SA Rivendell Global Gaming. More than anything, these findings only affirm our stance on why POGOs are not worth the costs.
With this hearing, we are hopeful that our call to ban POGO operations in the country will finally be heard and realized. Thank you and may God bless us all.